I hope each and everyone of you is have a most splendiferous summer. Allow me to introduce myself. I am Sam Barresi, a student from Merrimack College, aka “Scupper Boy,” and to start here is the riveting tale of how I was given my name. Please note I am no scholar. This will not be to the standard of Julius’s post, nor have such eloquent language. Nonetheless I digress. Enjoy!! (This is, by the way, is a gross exaggeration of the truth.)
It was a bright warm afternoon, my first watch ever. Beaming with excitement I was ready to haul line, handle sail, and do all of the stereotypical fantastical things that every person dreams of doing aboard a sailing vessel as grand as Robert C Seamans. Yet we had set all sail for the day and thus hauled all the lines, and what was left for excited B(est) Watch to do? SCRUB THE DECK!!!! So young naïve me was ready to grab the mop and scurry to it until I heard a screeching “AVAST LADDIE!!!” Jestering toward me was a long lanky Dutch man holding a tiny little brush yelling and pointing “to the scupper with yeeee!!” A scupper for those who don’t know is the gutter that helps drain all the water off the boat. More specifically it is the tiny hole that drains the water but scupper has now been generalized to the entire drainage system. So with a bit of hesitation I got on my hands and knees and began to scrub the dirt, the grime, the bits of bird poop, toenails, and all the lovely things that you frankly don’t want flying back at your face as you scrub. That’s just what I did; I scrubbed until those endless scuppers gleamed. It wasn’t till the end of our watch did I see the Dutch man again sauntering with a mischievous gleam in his eye, he stuck out hand stating “Good Man, Scupper Boy” and I shook it with pride. From that point on I have called myself Scupper Boy (or Scuppy for short). It is a name though possibly derogatory in connotation, I tend to like. It puts a smile on my crewmates’ face and makes me chuckle.
In addition to the general chores and cleaning that take place, there are numerous tasks or stations to tend to in order to keep the ship moving on our desired course and as safely as possible. One of my personal favorites is the helm. There is a certain grace and will power needed to helm properly. Upon relieving the current helmsman you are given the course ordered (the order degree that we should be heading towards on the compass) and any advice for how she’s (the ship) steering on any of the beautiful days that we have been at sea. You then repeat the course ordered back to the current helmsman and state “I got it” and switch. In an instance you engage in an arm wrestle with high seas. Underwater currents try to push your rudder left and right all while the wind pushes the ship in another. A series of coordinated attempts of trial and error begin to find the correct amount of left or right rudder. Once you find your groove it becomes peaceful, almost meditative, slow turning the wheel back and forth only getting slightly stressed as huge swell toss the ship ten degrees off course. On occasion your mind drifts ever so slightly too much into thought and what feels like an eternity of over correcting ensues and you begin to sing out “Ten off correcting Right!” or “10 off correcting Left!” alerting the whole quarter deck to your mistake. Eventually you find your way back into rhythm and continue your peaceful day dreams.
Sometimes helm is not so peaceful. You could be blissfully steering until the panicked look out speed walks (NO RUNNING ALLOWED) back to the quarterdeck to the mate pointing to a squall that is fast approaching. The Mate checks the radar and proceeds to ask if you if you would like your foul weather gear (a rain coat); you know that you are in for it. The cold gust pick up as you tighten your grip on the helm. The refreshing rain begins to fall upon your back slowly first but more and more as the black clouds approach. Lightning strikes and soon you feel like you are in a movie BATTLING THE HIGH SEAS LIKE A TRUE PIRATE AARRRRRGGGGGG!! (see photo!) The squall then passes as fast as it came and you return to your blissful rocking of the sea.
The helm (and lookout) is a perfect time to reflect on the trip and how privileged (and thankful) I am to be on this trip, truly living every day for those who cannot.
Hey FAM hope all is well back home. Mom, I am putting on sunscreen (even if I did maybe forget a little and just maybe burnt my back slightly), and clip in (so I don’t fall off the boat) more often than not so don’t even begin to worry. Luca I have done 1850 pushups so far on this trip (one for every nautical mile) so beat that fool.
p.s. hope the long game is working out for you
Father, I am Sciencing stupendously and learning all the things possible.
Mateo, I have many knots to teach you.
Jonah, I am not getting “destroyed” by the ocean and am slowly reaching enlightenment (Maybe).
Grandparents I love you all deeply, and am enjoying so much on this trip.
To all I do not know, I hope that you are having an amazing summer. Know that your children, friends, partners, or whoever are having a most splendid time and say Hi.
And in case I don’t see you, Good Afternoon, Good Evening, and Goodnight.
Sincerely, Samuel Barresi
Sam, learning about wind and "being goofballs" between Lab Tech Abby Grassick (left) and Deckhand Izzy Lardner